Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-L.I., Queens), who earlier this year honored his campaign pledge to join the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, was greeted by nearly 60 supporters from the Indian-American community on June 3 at a reception in Albertson, Long Island. The gathering was organized by the Indian American Voters Forum, a bipartisan body of community activists.
Nearly 60 prominent members of the Indian community gathered at the reception to applaud Suozzi, including Dr. Dattatreyudu Nori; Dr. Ajay Lodha, President of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin; H K Shah, Founder of Vegetarian Vision, Chandra Mehta, President of Vegetarian Vision; Dr. Urmilesh Arya, Sunil Modi and Rohit Vyas, all three former Presidents of the NY Chapter of the Association of Indians in America.
Also present to lend support to Suozzi were Naveen Shah, President and Chief Executive of Navika Group of Companies, a real estate investment group; Kanak Golia, President and CEO of the Perfume Center of America; and Dr. Nirmal Mattoo, former CEO of Wyckoff Hospital.
In April 2016, at a reception for the incoming Consul General of India, Ambassador Riva Ganguly Das, hosted by the Indian American Voters Forum, Tom Suozzi, then a candidate for election to the US Congress, had announced that if elected, he would join the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
On June 3rd, the Forum honored Congressman Suozzi at a special reception held after he enrolled himself in the India Caucus, in Long Island, New York. Suozzi, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the reception that as part of the India Caucus he hopes to play a special role in enhancing the relationship between India and the U.S.
“India and the United States share a special bond based on the shared values of democracy, the rule of law and belief in the intrinsic value of every human being,” he said. “It is essential that during these times of globalization and accelerating technology as well as threats from common enemies the United States and India strengthen our bonds of friendship and collaboration.”
Nearly 200 members of Congress were part of the India Caucus at its founding in 1992 to strengthen bilateral ties. Since then, membership dwindled as some congressional leaders retired and others lost re-election to their seats.
“Unfortunately, in the intervening years, there was no initiative by our community members to connect with their representatives to join the caucus,” said Varinder Bhalla, chairman and founder of the Indian American Voters Forum.
Suozzi’s membership in the congressional caucus has seemingly galvanized the forum into persuading more members of Congress to join the caucus, with Yashpal Arya, a senior forum member, announcing at the reception that it will spearhead a drive like it did successfully with Suozzi to recruit more members of Congress into the caucus.
“Last year, we recruited Congresswoman Kathleen Rice to join the India Caucus and now we are proud to bring Congressman Suozzi into the caucus,” Bhalla said.
Dr. Yash Pal Arya, senior member of the Indian American Voters Forum, outlined its missions, including voter registration drives, screening political candidates running for elections, conducting their debates and, most importantly, spearheading a drive to recruit members of Congress into the India Caucus.
“Nearly 200 members of Congress were part of the India Caucus when it was founded in 1992, with a goal to strengthen ties between the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest democracy. Over the years, membership declined significantly as somecongressional leaders retired and others lost elections. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, there was no initiative by our community members to connect with their representatives to join the Caucus,” says Varinder Bhalla, Chairman and Founder of the Indian American Voters Forum.
“So we started the campaign to bring in congressional leaders into the India Caucus. In 2010, we connected with US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to join the Senate India Caucus. Last year, we recruited Congresswoman Kathleen Rice to join the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans and now we are proud to bring Congressman Suozzi into the Caucus,” he added.